Keith Fenton Earns Grand Prizes on Three Consecutive Days; Robert Schintzius Sr. Sweeps the Big Bucks Tourneys; Eric Brothers Wins Three (and a Half) Events on Sunday (Weekly Recap, November 8-12)

A Pick & Pray weekend with plenty of long-priced winners to go around led to a large number of players enjoying multi-table success last week.

On a seemingly related note, the red hot Keith Fenton won grand prizes in three different tourneys since our last blog. However, multi-tabling had nothing to do with it. Fenton has simply been on a massive roll. 

Four days after collecting $9,646 for taking the “day-after-the-Breeders’-Cup” $20,000 Pick & Pray, Fenton recaptured his cash-game magic by putting up 4 winners and a runner up to finish first and earn $2,892, in the Thursday feature, our $6,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray, which paid out a total of $6,428.

Fenton normally seems to focus on cash tourneys, but since the Flo-Cal Faceoff is a lucrative event that guarantees an all-cash prize pool of $250,000 on January 20-21, perhaps he decided to make an exception and play in a qualifier for it. In any event, it was a good move.

The Flo-Cal qualifier, our first for the 2024 competition, was well attended. There were enough entries to hand out four $1,500 berths. One of them went to Fenton (2 wins, 4 places), who finished third. Out front (as Erin Burnett would say) was Kevin Willett, whose best winner among six came at the end with Don’t Ju Forget ($10.40, $5.00) in the 6th at Del Mar. Daniel Goldstein (winner of $15,896 as runner up in our two-day BC Pick & Pray) came in second with 4 wins and a place and Curtis Adams checked in fourth, which was also good for a Flo-Cal berth.

Prices were pretty chintzy on Friday. Goldstein had the day’s “bomb”—a 5-1 shot. That was not the case on Saturday, though. And who was there to capitalize? Who else but Keith Fenton?

Not lulled into a false sense of chalk from Friday’s goings on, Fenton fired with longshot Squints in the first contest race, the 8th at Gulfstream, and he was rewarded when Squints came up the rail to win and pay $58.20 to win and $18.60 to place. Another 4 winners and 2 runners up later, Fenton had the day’s highest score—and $13,305 to add to his burgeoning coffers following Saturday’s HT Tour event, our $25,000 Gtd. Pick & Pray, which closed with a pot of $29,568. It was the third straight day of success for Fenton, and his cash and seat winnings over the trailing 72 hours totaled $17,692. If you include his haul from the previous Sunday, his accounts receivable add up to $27,343.

Zeroing in on a particular type of tourney has been an effective strategy for many players over the years. That was certainly the case last weekend for Robert Schintzius Sr. vis-a-vis our Big Bucks games.

As we mentioned a few paragraphs ago, longshot winners were prevalent on Saturday. Seven of the 12 contest races had winners that paid $15.40 or more. Three returned $30.40 or more. Schintzius didn’t squint hard enough to come up with Squints, but he had Flatterwithjewels ($30.40, $10.80) in the 4th at Del Mar among his 3 firsts and 1 second, and he pocketed $12,111 for taking Saturday’s $7,000 Gtd. Big Bucks Pick & Pray, which drew 17 entrants and created a final purse of $17,301.

On Sunday, the Big Bucks format switched from Pick & Pray to Live. That mattered little to Schintzius.

Schintzius connected with Alluring Angel ($19.00, $7.90) as his best winner among 3 firsts and 3 seconds. Turnout here was lighter—just seven entrants—than on Sunday, but Schintzius still came out on top. Here, his Big Bucks triumph was worth $4,986, making for a two-day Big Bucks windfall of $17,097 for the Western New York Stater.

The horse you really wanted to have on Sunday was Coracle ($40.40, $14.00) in the 6th at Laurel. Eric Brothers (4 firsts, 1 second) had Coracle, and that first-time-turfer served as a springboard to much Sunday success.

Brothers led the way in Sunday’s Del Mar Fall Handicapping Challenge qualifier that saw Thomas Buechler (4W, 3P) also get a $3,000 seat. Buechler hit the last two races to get up for 2nd.

The same 4-win, 1-place selections also got Brothers a $1,500 Flo-Cal Faceoff berth. 

Brothers bested all but Dale Hatfield (4W, 3P),who also had Coracle. Again, this Flo-Cal game wound up being a “four-seater” and the other two spots went to Michael Odorisio (5W, 3P) and Travis Foelsch (2W, 2P).

That wrapped up the successes for Brothers on Sunday at HorseTourneys…but not at HorsePlayers.

He and Alexa Zepp got the two March 2024 packages in Sunday’s $165 NHC Pick & Pray. Zepp’s biggest winner returned just $8.80, but she overcame that by compiling 7 winners and 2 runners up.

Brothers was also a big factor in our first qualifier to the 2024 Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge—a $500 Low Ratio Pick & Pray.

Brothers couldn’t outdo Ed “Coracle” Peters (3 wins, 2 places). However, he did stick around for second place, which in this game, meant a not-at-all insignificant $5,000 partial BCBC entry (and with 11 1/2 months left for him to get a second “partial”). 

In all, Brothers’ one set of 12 Pick & Pray selections earned him $9,500 in seat value plus an NHC berth on top of that. Not a bad day’s return for $1,019 in entry fees.

We noted that one of the four Sunday Flo-Cal Faceoff seat winners was Michael Odorisio, It was Odorisio who got the featured-tourney week off to an eye-catching beginning.

The story wasn’t so much that Odorisio got the $2,500 top prize in Wednesday’s $5,000 Guaranteed tourney (which had a takout of 8.2%)—it was more about how he did it.

Odorisio defeated Kirk Rockwell by 40 cents…by sweeping the final seven contest races, including a block of Rockwell in the finale. Impressive!

It wasn’t exactly a streak like Odorisio’s, but James Henry did manage to make collections in each of the first four races of Friday’s HT Tour event, our $15,000 Gtd. Pick & Pray.

Henry cooled off after the early salvo, but he finished up by hitting Don’t Ju Forget ($10.40, $5.00) in the final contest race, the 6th at Del Mar. Henry earned the up-top money of $7,780 in a game ultimately worth a total of $17,290.

In Friday’s Del Mar Fall Handicapping Challenge play-in, the two winners were Jeffrey Banks (4 wins, 2 places) and Jared Henry (4W, 0P).

They both had the longest-priced winner of the day on their respective scorecards—Race Craft ($12.40, $4.60) in the 8th at Gulfstream.

Over at HorsePlayers, Friday’s $75 NHC Pick & Pray guaranteed just two seats, but there were essentially four winners.

Joseph “Kevin” Costello (4 wins, 3 places) and Chad Passante (5W, 1P) were already double qualified and, thus, playing just to improve their standing in the NHC Tour race—and they both succeeded in a big way, filling the top two spots. Meanwhile, there were still two NHC spots to give away, and those went to the 3rd- and 4th-place finishers, Daniel Kaplan (5W, 1P) and Peter Yan (3W, 4P).

All together, 12 people won $1,500 seats last weekend to the Flo-Cal Faceoff, getting our first set of qualifiers off to an excellent start. Four of those 12 came on Saturday.

Congratulations to Laura Arth (3 wins, 4 places), Dane Moore (4W, 1P), Lawrence Kahlden (4W, 2P) and Ron Tang (4W, 0P).

Tang hit Mastermind ($24.00, $12.00) in the final contest race (the 9th at Del Mar) to get up for fourth in the Flo-Cal Faceoff play-in. Using the same picks, he was even higher up the leaderboard in Saturday’s Del Mar Fall Handicapping Challenge qualifier.

Here, winner Tang shared the post-tourney podium with Justin Dew (3 firsts, 3 seconds). Dew landed his biggest fish right at the outset with Squints ($58.20, $18.60) in the 8th at Gulfstream.

Saturday’s NHC qualifier, a $165 Pick & Pray, was held here at HorseTourneys.

Both David Brownfield and Christopher “Mary Queen of” Skotz struck early with Squints. Overall, Brownfield posted 3 winners followed by 4 runners up. Skotz’s day involved 5 wins and a place.

Anthony DeCaspers also was wide-eyed at the sight of Squints hitting the wire first in the 8th at Gulfstream.

DeCaspers (3 firsts, 1 second) captured our first qualifier to the Hawthorne Thanksgiving Contests on November 25-26. 

Our second qualifier for Hawthorne came on Sunday.

Much like Al Capone ruled the streets of Chicago during the Roaring Twenties, R. Paul Capone hopes to do likewise in one of the Club Hawthorne OTBs during Thanksgiving weekend. In this qualifier, Capone fired off 5 winners and 4 runners up, led by Alluring Angel ($19.00, $7.90) in the 6th at Aqueduct.

As well as Capone did in the Hawthorne qualifier, it wasn’t his biggest killing of the day.

Using the same selections, Capone also stole the cash—$9,646 to be exact—in Sunday’s HT Tour event, our $20,000 Gtd. Pick & Pray, which closed up shop with $21,437 in the till. 

The Hawthorne Thanksgiving Contests are onsite-only competitions. Another such tournament is the Fall Simulcast Betting Challenge at Lone Star Park on December 2. We had our first qualifier to it on Sunday.

The two players to top the $90 mark were they two to emerge victorious with $1,000 seats—Brian Hoffacker (4 wins, 1 place) and Vance Normand (3W, 1P). They both hit it big with Coracle ($40.40, $14.00) in race 6 at Laurel.

Thanks to all of you for making the just-completed featured-tourney week as competitive and exciting as it was. We’ll do it all again this week—starting on Wednesday—and we hope you can again join us for a portion of it. Good luck.